Despite its small sea area, Hong Kong has an extremely rich marine biodiversity, comprising up to 25% of all taxonomic groups found in the greater China area. Have you ever wondered how these fishes, crabs, shrimps, snails, etc. got here? Where are they from? To address these questions of origin, we have to look into the life history of marine organisms.
Many marine organisms spend part of their early life stages as plankton (organisms with relatively weak swimming ability that cannot actively swim against water currents). The abundance and physiological conditions of these dispersal stages play a significant role in shaping the population dynamics of the adults.
Studying the changes in distribution of these planktonic larvae over time and space are crucial to managing and conserving our marine resources, including many that are commercially important species. Focusing on the decapod crustaceans (which include crabs and shrimps, as well as mantis shrimps and spiny lobsters) that may end up on our dining tables, this website provides suggestions on field collection methods that are best suited for the shallow coastal waters of Hong Kong. A photo gallery of commonly collected larval forms is provided to facilitate their identification for even non-specialists.
*Zoea = the early larval stage of crabs and shrimps.
Photomicrograph of a porcelain crab zoea (Infraorder Anomura; family Porcellanidae).